Whole Farm Planning

This course will expose students to the complexity of whole farm planning by combining business planning and management with policy and ecology in development of farm models that support health of the land and business owners. Students will be expected to draw heavily on the technical and theoretical expertise they have accumulated through course work and internships. A major portion of the course will require completion of a project conducted in partnership with an existing farm or agriculturally based business. Grading will be based on significant class participation, written assignments and completion of major project conducted in support of an existing business.

College Teaching Experience

This course entails serving as a teaching assistant in a course previously completed with a satisfactory grade. Introduces strategies for the planning, preparation, presentation, and evaluation required for teaching at the college level. Students work with the faculty member teaching the class to develop a detailed plan for participation in the teaching of the class prior to the beginning of the semester in which the course is offered. This course may be repeated once if serving as a teaching assistant in a different course.

Leadership and Social Change

This course focuses on the intersection of climate change and social justice.  The course objectives are to provide historical perspective on current issues through examining an array of social justice movements, to acquire a theoretical framework for making decisions about social change priorities, goals, and strategies, to understand the dynamics of social change movements, to cultivate leadership skills, and to examine the relationship of one’s personal life, values, and actions to social change.  Students will develop and lead a workshop for peers, attend social change events in the region, read extensively, and interview an activist they are interested in.

Experiential Curriculum Design

Explores the cognitive and social foundations of an interactive learning environment. Students study experiential learning theory from a variety sources including (but not limited to) John Dewey, Circles of Courage, and Coyotes Guide. Students will develop and implement lesson plans for in class use and external projects. In the past, external projects have included curriculum development for a high school environmental science class and a collective of home schooled students. Students complete the course with a project connecting personal interests and/or their senior capstone experience to the area of curriculum design. Special features of this course include a high rate of student led class sessions, hands-on curriculum development experiences, and interactions with a variety of educators.

Group Process

An upper-level leadership skills course which takes place on a nine day backpacking expedition in the White Mountains.  Students cultivate the interactive skills essential for effective leadership in a field setting. You will examine roles of leaders in wilderness groups and outdoor education, and develop skills in facilitation, group assessment, program design, conflict management, one-on-one counseling, working with a co-instructor, and interventions. Through on-the-ground experience leading and receiving feedback in the mountains, each student identifies and develops a personal leadership style that is responsive to participant needs and educational in focus.

Introduction to GIS

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a computerized framework for gathering, managing, analyzing, and presenting spatial data. GIS is a standard tool for planning and problem-solving in conservation and natural resources management, food systems, and various other fields, and employees with GIS skills are in high demand in federal, state, and local governments as well as many private industries.

Students in this course will learn basic principles of spatial reasoning, and develop foundational skills in cartography, spatial modeling and analysis using the leading GIS software package, ArcGIS. Students will practice solving spatial problems, such as urban, rural, and watershed planning, biodiversity and forest management, and identification of housing and conservation areas. Students will also learn how to use a GPS (Global Positioning System) to bring data collected in the field into GIS for mapping and analysis, and will learn about other GIS tools such as the web-based Vermont Natural Resources Atlas and Biofinder, ArcGIS online, and Google Earth.

Independent Study in Social Science

Independent studies are available to students who have completed 45 credits. Advised by full-time faculty, these provide students the opportunity to pursue in more depth a focused topic not otherwise available in the curriculum. Independent studies may be proposed at the 200, 300, or 400 level for between 1 and 12 credits. Independent studies go through a rigorous approval process and must meet specific criteria in order to be approved. Proposals for independent studies of two or more credits must be approved the prior semester. Proposals for independent studies of one credit will be considered until the first day of an intensive session or the first week of a long-block session. For more details about the independent study proposal process, see the online submission form.

Please note that independent study is not available for topics already offered through classes.

Small Group Dynamics

This class is based on the premise that anyone who intends to contribute positively to a community, whether through being an educator, a family member, or simply a citizen in a town, gains from a familiarity with how small groups operate.  Students in this class explore group development, groups as systems,  norms and climate, roles and leadership in groups, non-verbal and verbal communication, group influence and decision making, power and conflict in groups, and gender and other diversity in groups.  Participants will cultivate self-awareness regarding group participation, and explore what it means to be a positive group member in a range of circumstances.  Students will use both the leadership role and the observer role to become astute observers of group dynamics and cultivate effective communication and participation strategies in the small group setting.

In spring 2018 this class will run as part of the Southwest Field Semester.

Tropical Ecosystems and Culture

The course is an introduction to the ecosystems and culture as well as conservation efforts in tropical regions. Through presentations, readings, and hands on activities such as the cuisine of Central America, we are introduced to tropical watersheds, from the lowland broadleaf rainforest to the coral reef system and the people who live there. Each student conducts a research project on an area of interest regarding tropical systems.

Renewable Energy Design and Analysis

Teaches the skills and knowledge necessary for the design and analysis of renewable energy designs on a variety of scales; from individual appliances through single family homes to regional power plants. On the ground measurements are coupled with computer spreadsheets and established values for analysis. Hydroelectric, wind, biomass, geothermal, biomass and solar (both thermal and electric) sources are studied.  Background content in thermodynamics and the design process inform design projects that minimize environmental impacts. Projects this year include improvements to the existing barn PV system and other campus improvements.

Field Ecology

This course teaches students to pose questions about ecological phenomena, construct hypotheses, collect appropriate data in the field to test these hypotheses, and then to descriptively and quantitatively analyze these data, concluding with interpreting and presenting this information. This hands-on class will familiarize students with transferable tools and skills used to investigate ecological problems.


This course is an introduction to geology and geomorphic processes. Students are introduced to rock types, degradational forces, the geologic time scale, plate tectonics, geologic evolution of landscapes, and major landforming processes such as fluvial geomorphology, periglacial processes, and glacial geology. This course is a global survey but pays special attention to the physical landscapes of the circumpolar regions and Northeastern North America. Course format includes lectures, discussions, and regular field excursions.